01 November 2012

The Down-Under 12 Days of Christmas

 by Michael Salmon
Ford Street Publishing Picture Book. Hardcover.RRP $19.95

Reviewed by Francine Sculli

We all know the 12 Days of Christmas carol – we have sung it in our homes, heard it in the supermarket in the lead up to Christmas and no doubt whispered in the ears of children around us as we watch glee spread through their eyes. So what happens when you take a well-loved and well-known carol like that and give it some Aussie cheer? You get a great children’s picture book that will make the perfect gift for those little ones this Christmas.

So what makes this a down-under Christmas? Well it is brimming with a host of classic Australian animal characters, some hot sun and a range of equally classic Australian activities that’ll warm any heart with familiarity. Following the same rhythm, repetition and structure as the original carol, this book introduces readers to kookaburras in gum trees, snakes on skis, wet galahs, lyrebirds, kangaroos, sharks a-surfing, egg laying emus, dancing dingoes, snoozing crocs, washing wombats, leaping lizards and musical possums. Best of all are the vibrant and cartoon-like pictures that fill the pages and are jam-packed with enough beautiful detail to allow plenty of room for pre-emptive and early literacy discussions – and simply to keep readers engaged.

This book is perfect for children aged three and up. For the younger ones, the repetition and colourful images allows them to predict the text and introduces them to a classic carol and for the older ones, the language is simple and repeated enough to allow them to read through it on their own – making this a great early literacy resource. I tried this one out on my three and a half year old son and he absolutely loved it and by the end of the book he was ‘reading’ along, making this a certified winner for the Christmas related read-a-thon in the lead up to Christmas.

Francine Sculli is a regular reviewer of children's books for Buzz Words magazine, an essential resource for writers and illustrators for children.

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